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Betting on breakfast

What did you have for breakfast today?

I'll admit that in recent years I've been kind of bad about eating breakfast. I don't like to eat anything before yoga class (I prefer practicing on an empty stomach), which means that four mornings a week I wouldn't break my fast with anything other than coffee until 10:30, even though I wake up at 6. The other mornings I'd eat a bit earlier. I usually ate Total Raisin Bran with skim milk and a piece of fruit because I like it and because it seemed like a healthful choice, what with all the vitamins, minerals and fiber in the bran and the calcium and Vitamin D in the skim milk.

But Pam Peeke, in offering me advice for my Me Minus 10 effort, suggested that I try to work in some lean protein in the morning, and to try to make my "chaotic" dining schedule more regular. She also thought I could branch out and enjoy a wider array of foods. My goal, she said, should be to concentrate on those that would help me build more lean muscle mass, which in turn should help burn fat. She recommended eating regular, but smallish, meals throughout the day. And she told me to stop skipping breakfast.

As I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, one option that's increasingly available for breakfast is the fast-food breakfast sandwich. But a fat- and sodium-filled breakfast sandwich offers too many calories for too little nutrition, and I'm sure they're not what Peeke had in mind.

Nor am I inclined to go the bacon-and-egg route. You may have read recent reports of a study that many interpreted to mean a high-fat bacon-and-eggs-style breakfast could actually help people avoid developing metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that increase risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. As this article notes, though, that's a pretty gross misinterpretation: The study merely showed that mice who ate high-fat mouse chow for their first meal had fewer symptoms such as abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and insulin resistance than mice who ate high-carb "breakfasts" and ate their fatty food later in the day. No bacon or eggs were involved, and it's not clear how, if at all, the findings may apply to humans.

I've been trying to follow Peeke's advice. I still don't like to eat before yoga, but I've been experimenting with having some yogurt (usually home-made) with blueberries, pineapple or a banana stirred in. I also add a dash of cinnamon for flavor and a few extra antioxidants.

My new embrace of breakfast, though just one of the many small changes I've made for Me Minus 10, seems to be paying off: This morning I weighed just a few ounces over 140 pounds, so I'm just about half-way to my original goal of 135 pounds.

What is your breakfast strategy? What do you eat for your morning meal, and why? Please share your tips; I could use some inspiration!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 27, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Me Minus 10 , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
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I missed the study, but anecdotally, its findings are consistent with my own experience. I have been far more successful losing weight with almost pure protein in the morning -- even if it's the higher-fat variety, like eggs and sausage. Carbs -- even reasonably "good" carbs like fruit -- leave me starving and shaky 2 hrs later.

I have two big problems. First, I get really, really bored ("oh, look. eggs. again."). So I frequently avoid breakfast foods entirely and have dinner leftovers, or cottage cheese, or hummus, etc. For flavor, an eggbeaters breakfast taco with lots of salsa is decent; just a little bit of chorizo can add a lot of flavor.

Second, I'd like breakfast to be a little healthier and less meat-dependent. So I'm using more nonfat dairy as my protein (no-sugar yogurt, cottage cheese, or my personal favorite, hot cocoa with skim milk and a little sugar substitute). I'm also experimenting to see if I can add small bits of high-fiber whole grains and fruit without triggering the huge blood-sugar swings (steel-cut oats with flaxseed meal and frozen blueberries; banana-flax-oatbran muffins; etc.). It's ok, although I'm definitely hungrier earlier. But it would be a perfect pre-exercise starter, if I were going to eat afterwards anyway.

Posted by: laura33 | April 27, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

In a container, layer seasonal fresh fruit, plain, nonfat yogurt, and high fiber cereal. It adds up to about 300 calories, is easily carried to work, and is filling and delicious.

Posted by: annie7 | April 27, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I've been maintaining a 140 lb weight loss for 21 years, so I'm used to low calorie/low fat options. Two years ago I was diagnosed with gluten and dairy sensitivities, so my low cal bread with fat free cheese sandwiches went out the window. Now I mostly eat plain smoked salmon (Costco has a great cold smoked Norwegian salmon) and it's amazing how just 4oz can keep me going until lunch time without being hungry. Plus I love the flavor, so it's a real treat. It's a little expensive, but a great choice at only 3.5 Weight Watchers points.

Posted by: dawn-wise | April 27, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I eat the same breakfast at least 6 times per week:
-1 1/2 quart bowl
-6 servings of bran flakes
-1 cup of fruit and berries
-wheat germ
-flax seed
- 1 cup of non-sugar applesauce
-3 cups of 1% milk
This meal combines protein and fiber with great flavor that permeats every bite because of the applesauce.
Seems to work. I am 66, work out 2 or 3 hours a day and have the metabolism of a 15 year old.

Posted by: HarryMoser | April 27, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I am a competitive Cat 2 cyclist and most weekdays when I go to work straightaway and then workout after work I eat a banana. If it is a Sat or Sunday and I get on the bike early for training or racing I eat Coach's Oats (160 cals 1/3 cup) with a sliced banana (90cals) for sweetness and a fistful of mixed, sliced almonds, walnuts and pecans.(about 150 cals) I find that the banana does fine until I eat more fruit at intervals throughout the morning if I am just working.

Posted by: sasiccrn | April 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I abhor packaged cereals. For breakfast I have either a cut-up fruit salad (frozen berries, banana, mango, apple or pear) and a green smoothie (veggies plus berries), or I enjoy last night's vegetarian leftovers, or mix a few of the leftovers with spinach, greens, spring onions and mushrooms to make a salad. Any of these are great!

Posted by: louisarogers7 | April 27, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I usually have some plain yogurt (home made with slow cooker) with flax seeds, berries (frozen blueberries come handy) sliced banana, grapes or any fruit I have in the refrigerator, then I add some organic flax granola mixed with nuts (for omega 3 fatty acid). I recommend to buy organic strawberries, since they absorb the chemicals and you can't wash them off. This breakfast should keep you satisfied for a few hours.
If I am in a hurry or I have a sweet tooth moment, I'll have a Wasa whole grain cracker with brown rice syrup on it.

Posted by: mammadiscimmietta | April 27, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I myself am getting 13 servings of fruit/veggies nutrition by taking a 2 oz. shot twice a day of MonaVie. It is a liquid fruit blend of the top quality superfoods - fruit in the world. at wholesale the price is great and the nutrition is top grade. see at
Cheers! Mike

Posted by: michaelmonahan | April 27, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I do best with a high protein breakfast that also has some bulk to it, so I make an egg white omelet (3-4 egg whites) and about a cup and a half of mixed fresh vegetables (usually onions, bell peppers, broccoli, etc., whatever I have on hand) and top it with 1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese. It is a healthy filling breakfast that is only 2 points on Weight Watchers. :-)

Posted by: lmbaker1 | April 27, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big man 6'2" 222lb 23% body fat. I eat 6 oz rolled oats, 6 oz wheat bran, 3 oz sunflower seeds and 3 oz wheat germ in 1% milk. It lasts easily till 11am and I have low cholesterol.

Posted by: rtg2t | April 27, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, breakfast my favorite. I find oats are the best way to start the day: my breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, soaked in light soy mlik, with a spoonful of brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Good stuff. Easily keeps you going til 11- when I have a handful of almonds,with a few dates for sweetness, as a morning snack.

Posted by: sbhate8 | April 28, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

It seems having a pleasing ritual is part of what people enjoy about breakfast. Mine is grains with a piece of fruit afterward.
I have 12 little jars. I line them up and spoon into each six types of grain/seeds. (The layering is pretty.) Breakfast is ready for 12 days: Just open jar, pour contents into a bowl, add water, microwave (uncovered on reduced power of 7) for 4 minutes. Adjust texture with soy milk; add cinnamon and brown sugar. Have an orange after. (The usual six ingredients are oats, polenta, sunflower seeds, rye flakes, couscous, buckwheat groats, 1 Tbsp. of each.)

Posted by: Makaleha | April 28, 2010 3:11 AM | Report abuse

I've tried the weight control instant oatmeal, which advertises itself as having 7g of protein -an egg has about 6g. It beats an egg because it's also got 6g of fiber. If you make it with milk that punches up the protein count. Quaker also has a low sugar oatmeal and I wish they'd combined the two. I like the ease of instant oatmeal but it's way too sweet.

Posted by: RedBird27 | April 28, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

If I don't spread some fat calories throughout the day, I'm famished at night and succumb to peanut butter. I use Quaker or Giant brand minute oats or rolled oats. I add flax seed, a sprinkling of cinnamon, usually blueberries, and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts for fat and protein. I mix this up with the occasional egg on toast or Cheerios, my guilty pleasure. I spend a half hour on the treadmill before eating at 7:30 and find these breakfasts all hold me until lunch around 12:30.

Posted by: argon412 | April 28, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't think people should force themselves to eat breakfast (or any other time) if they aren't hungry. I am never hungry for breakfast. If I do eat it, it makes me tired and I'll end up being just as hungry for lunch as I would have been if I hadn't had breakfast. After years of forcing myself to eat it because that's what "they" say to do, I finally let myself just have coffee for breakfast and I don't eat until I'm hungry, which is usually around lunch time. Doing this, along with other changes I made, helped me lose about 15 pounds without dieting and I have kept it off for over six months.

The same thing goes for those frequent, small meals we are supposed to eat. I found that when I stopped trying to eat on someone else's schedule, I feel better and am much smaller. Now I just eat healthy food when I'm hungry and stop eating when I'm full.

Posted by: pinkstate | April 28, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I am starving when I wake up. I have blueberries or strawberries, a few walnuts, and yogurt or cottage cheese (about 1/2 cup). Then at 11:00 a snack of either 6 triscuits or a banana. I count everything and that keeps me thin.

Posted by: queenb3 | April 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I am starving when I wake up. I have blueberries or strawberries, a few walnuts, and yogurt or cottage cheese (about 1/2 cup). Then at 11:00 a snack of either 6 triscuits or a banana. I count everything (only 6 triscuits!!) and that keeps me thin.

Posted by: queenb3 | April 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

A good way to get protein and whole grain is oatmeal with some yogurt mixed in.

Posted by: chiquita2 | April 28, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, this is me all over. I disliked breakfast for years. I just hated to eat anything for at least 2 hours after waking up - and if I did I felt as tho I were starving just an hour later. But I found a solution! Now I make a high-protein shake with fruit and tofu or soy yogurt (found a nice unsweetened/low processed one). I found that drinking my breakfast helped me feel less leaden or sick while still breaking my fast and not causing me to crave more food. Now my eating habits have shifted earlier in the day and I feel fantastic!

Posted by: Fizziks | April 28, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and also on weekends when I can sit around feeling the post-solid-food-breakfast-lethargy, I make a great oatmeal that I add protein powder to along with my soymilk. Then with a smattering of fruit you have it all in one dish!

Posted by: Fizziks | April 28, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and also on weekends when I can sit around feeling the post-solid-food-breakfast-lethargy, I make a great oatmeal that I add protein powder to along with my soymilk. Then with a smattering of fruit you have it all in one dish!

Posted by: Fizziks | April 28, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

These are such fantastic breakfast ideas and thoughts on the morning meal! Thanks so much for sharing; keep 'em coming!

Posted by: jhuget | April 28, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm not hungry when I wake up do I don't eat breakfast. Lunch is the first meal of the day. I am average weight.

Someone told me David Kessler writes about breakfast in his book "The End of Overeating" and what he says is that big breakfasts were not common until promoted by the breakfast cereal industry long ago.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 28, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I've found that a whole grain hot cereal (Coaches oats or a multigrain mixture sold by a local store) works best for me. I vary what I add to it each day. I like a tablespoon of nut butter (eg peanut, sesame or almond), cranberries, strawberries, raisins, bananas..whatever's in season and I'm in the mood to eat. I also like a poached egg on toast. I'll eat about an hour before heading to the gym. This will hold me until lunchtime. Of course, I also have some form of caffiene..either black coffee or help me get out the door.

Posted by: Beagle1 | April 28, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

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